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Illumination of “9 Wonders Of The World.”

I’m attaching the poem because my illumination is MIA (which means as soon as I post this, I will, of course, find it).


I. Twenty-three years ago a cosmic collision
gave birth to a child of the stars and
somehow after siren songs we discovered
the wonder of your body next to mine.

II. We undress
as your lips play snakes and ladders
down my chest, and this is a miracle.
I breathe summer into you,
and this is a miracle.
You stay despite the fog,
and this is a miracle.
You leave and I wait, and I wait,
and THAT is a fucking miracle.

III. You come home to me for fifty-five days.
Every time you open the door
my heart goes

Doo da-do,
Do do-do da-do,
Do do-do da-do-do!

IV. When I had you I had the sunlight on my fingertips.

We drew portraits in the sky
and spat in the face of anyone
who told us we couldn’t be gods.

V. You pull the moon and I feel it sink
its teeth until my body cracks.

I am a firecracker banging against the cage of your ribs.
You fill me with such light they see
the sunset bleeding out of me.

VI. I put daydreams in your eyes and
in turn you show me seawater and nebulae.

Your skin, it tastes like the edge of a galaxy.
The earth, it spins for you, my love.

VII. My mind is springtime for all seasons;
your room, a bed of roses blue.
We time-travel and three months seem like a year.
We were on the precipice of something great.

VIII. You cascade down my back like waterfalls.
You look at me and I am all
shivers, and want, and yes, yes, yes.

IX. You leave. There is no darkness.

There is music and I am dancing
to the ring of your laughter in
another lifetime. Can you hear it yet?

(Dance with me and feel the sand beneath our feet)

I am okay.

Sade Andria Zabala | 9 Wonders Of The World

I selected this poem for illumination because, one, Zabala is an incredible poet and a lot of her work resonates deeply in my heart and, two, there were a lot of very vivid images in this poem which I had hoped would give me some leverage in picking a few in my process of illumination. What I ended up doing was picking up on the image of the snake because I feel like this poem twists and turns, and not only does it mention the snake but I feel like having a snake wrapped around the border gave a visual for how this poem feels. In that same feeling, and the last lines referencing sand, I debated about using waves of water along the bottom but felt like that would be too much with the blue watercolor sky cascading down from the top right corner. So I found a bunch of silver/coal/gray colors and made a mountain landscape across the bottom with a small moon poking from behind the top peak where the sky could melt from dark blue up into the light blue sky at the top. Then I drew a simple border around 3/4 of the walls of the poem and divided that up into small geometric shapes so I could tessellate the border into earth tones (blues, greens, etc.).

I feel like going with nature themed pictures gave the title more weight with the poem while also trying to stay loyal to Zabala’s references to concepts like “waterfalls”, “blue roses”, and “firecrackers”. She gives the poem such strong visuals that I didn’t want to overshadow the poem by adding more, over the top, images around the words. This entire experience gave me such an appreciation for anyone who has ever drawn anything because wow it is hard to make what you see in your head appear accurately on paper. But I can’t imagine having to have done this without erasers or with an insane pressure of a time/money crunch. I also was able to choose to either incorporate or ignore my partner’s ideas for how to improve upon my illuminations, where as people who did illuminations for a living were not able to just ignore the people paying them. This entire activity really gave me a deeper appreciation for the patience early illuminators must have had for this job.

The Start of a New Chapter (Get it??? Because books… I’m adorable.)



  1. Syllabus
  2. What is a book?
  3. Blog/Daily Scribe
  4. Break?
  5. Readings
  6. Medieval help desk
  7. Writing as a technology
  8. Plato’s Phaedrus

Hello all! Since I have volunteered myself to go first, I’m just going to dive in headfirst and hope for the best. I gotta confess, going first felt like a better idea earlier, as I now find myself anxious about straddling this line between diary/journal entry and actual helpful information to you, my classmates. But I digress and let’s go for it.

First of all, I want to say how terrible it is to have the semester start on your birthday, which today was for me. But I had a pretty decent class line up so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world but still. We started class by going over the syllabus, as usual. Here is where I expected to get let out early but as we all know that is not what happened. But I was weirdly happy to just immediately jump into this class because this class is easily the coolest concept ever. I love the idea of tying together history and literature and the logistical aspects of books and then also a bit of philosophy like we did today. So onward into today’s events.

After some brief syllabus overview. Alex posted the question: what is a book? While I went super abstract, more so focused on the emotional aspects of a book (what it does, is there such thing as a “real” book, etc.), a lot of people went literal (binding, production, etc.).  We started in pairs, discussing our writing on the question, and then eventually dovetailed into a group discussion. This led to discussions of not only what makes a book but what does a book do, as well as whether or not e-readers count as books. (Spoiler alert: they do!) This is where I attach a picture of all the notes on our discussion because I’m the best. img_3487

From there, we briefly talked through the wiki page and then scribe duties. And here is where I volunteered to go first. Then we took a class vote on whether we wanted to do breaks halfway through class or end early, and more of us voted to end early than to take breaks. I wonder whether the split was grad vs. undergrad, grad students preferring the shorter class to a break. Not that it really matters either way but it’s interesting to think about. I digress. Then we did a little more “syllabus-ing” (direct quote) before discussing the meaning behind the image on the wiki.

Alex then showed us a video of a medieval help desk, spoofing the modern IT desks, which got us into a conversation on how writing serves as a kind of technology, which led into an even deeper conversation on the difference between the reaction to books and the reaction to computer technology. (Spoiler alert: both times people swore society was going to crumble. Both times, of course, society did not.) This is where Plato came in, and we split up into more groups to dissect and discuss his fears and opinions on writing. Of course, like all older generations exposed to new technology, he wasn’t exactly digging it but he allowed that as long as younger generations were still contributing to the ideas people were now writing down, we as humans would probably be okay.

And that was today’s class. See you all next Monday!